Coop’s Citizen Sci Scoop: Weekly Roundup

I’m motivated to begin a weekly roundup because there were at least four five cool scientific papers this week that relied on citizen science.  I’m absolutely sure that there were more that did not come across my desk. Help me fill in the blanks by sending links of more papers reporting the results of research that relied on citizen science. Send to me via twitter @CoopSciScoop or put in the comments below.

Later this month, I’ll discuss one or more of these papers.  Comment below on which are of particular interest to you! moths, koalas, lake water, butterflies, and the list will grow.

weekly roundup 1

New findings brought to you by citizen science:

Lottig et al. Long-term citizen-collected data reveal geographical patterns and temporal trends in lake water clarity.  PLOS ONE

Fox et al. Long-term changes to the frequency of occurrence of British moths are consistent with opposing and synergistic effects of climate and land-use change. J Applied Ecology

Bates et al. Garden and landscape-scale correlates of moths of differing conservation status: significant effects of urbanization and habitat diversity. PLOS ONE

Sequeira et al. Distribution models for koalas in South Australia using citizen science-collected data. Ecology & Evolution.

Diamond et al. Unexpected phenological responses of butterflies to the interaction of urbanization and geographic temperature. Ecology

photo credit: (koala), Olaf Leillinger (moth), Sue Waters (secchi disc)



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3 Responses to Coop’s Citizen Sci Scoop: Weekly Roundup

  1. Richard Fox says:

    Tens of thousands of amateur naturalists are involved in gathering butterfly and moth occurrence and/or abundance data in the UK each year. This tradition goes back centuries, although modern technology (among other factors) has enabled a greater number of people to participate in recent years. Thus, this sort of ‘citizen science’ is absolutely normal in UK biological recording, but of course is rather different from citizen science project that ask the public to gather data or undertake analysis to answer a specific question or test a hypothesis. The latter sort of citizen science is perceived to be new and trendy, whereas the public participation that underlies our recording and monitoring scheme (and those of the British Trust for Ornithology and many others) is a long-standing tradition. We’ve published dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals utilising such citizen-gathered data. The amateur naturalists who participate have higher skills in fieldcraft and identification (and often in the autecology of species) than many professional scientists.

  2. CoopSciScoop says:

    Thanks for your comment and observation. I’ve noticed as well, but I think it would make tracking the scientific impact of citizen science (broadly defined) easier if researchers used it as a keyword. Right now, I’m basically crowdsourcing for papers that use citizen science because I know that I can’t find them all with a simple keyword search. Indeed, I can’t even find the bulk of them that way. I think that most of the papers that explicitly use the phrase are those dealing with the design, practice, or social outcomes of citizen science. I have a paper (with Jenn Shirk and Ben Zuckerberg) in review/revision that quantifies this a bit in one domain, so I’ll say no more at the moment!

  3. Michael Pocock (twitter: @mjopocock) says:


    It’s an interesting range of approaches in those papers and shows that ‘citizen science’ isn’t just one thing.

    I also think it is interesting that the Fox et al. paper doesn’t mention the term ‘citizen science’ (except in the keywords – so it is at least discoverable in searches). I know that people like Rick Bonney have said we should be proud to use the term citizen science, partly because it will further justify the validity of citizen science. I broadly agree with him.

    But on the other hand, the paper by Fox et al. uses this incredible dataset and the scientific validity of the research stands on its own merit, without ‘needing’ to sound timely by using the phrase ‘citizen science’. (Richard Fox actively supports the volunteer naturalist community in collecting these data – so he isn’t just a distant end user of the data!)

    I think it is great to have the diversity of explicit and implicit promotion of citizen science in peer-reviewed literature in this way.